An old friend (the friendship is old, not the friend) asked if I would make him a guitar. He had been wanting a tenor, which is of course what I have made a lot of lately. I was delighted to say "yes," and the talk turned to wood. Although I have been almost exclusively using salvaged piano wood, I had a chunk of lumber left over from this table that I made a few years ago. It is a slab of Honduran mahogany that is three inches thick and 42 inches wide, and it made a fine table and a couple of benches.
I have had the offcut sitting in the lumber rack for over ten years, wondering what I would do with it. It seemed like this was it. Not technically a "found object," but still scrap wood, in a way. I used Sitka spruce for the top, which was salvaged form the mast of the 1924 schooner Adventuress. It was not the 1924 mast, I should point out. It was from a rebuild some time since then, but it is still beautiful straight-grained spruce.
The build was concurrent with #95, so I was building two instruments in tandem, both of them with a body lifted from drawings of a Lyon-Healy parlor guitar body from 1900 (Though Lyon-Healy does not make guitars any longer, they do still make harps, so if you have been to the orchestra lately it is likely you have heard one). I updated the bracing, though, to a modified Martin-style X-brace pattern. Here is a little video I made from the images that I took to document the process, with a soundtrack made on the instrument:
The real struggle on this one was with the finish. I tried a lacquer finish twice, and both times it came out pretty poorly. So I had to scrape it back to bare wood and start again. After the second time it failed I decided that I would just use an oil finish. Believe me when I say I have no stock in Tru-Oil, but I LOVE it as a finish. It linseed oil with some other stuff in there (hardeners, maybe? Other oils? The MSDS is not clear on that) and it is easy to apply and makes a nice hard finish. I really dig it. And it just makes the wood grain sing. Really nice stuff.
It came out well. And since the new owner has been a Union Stagehand for his whole working life (and so has had to wear black while running shows), the head stock veneer, the heel cap, the tail graft, the bridge, and the saddle are all ebony. Black details for a stagehand. Seemed appropriate. Also sprung for fancy-pants high end tuners, thinking to myself "how much better could they really be?" The answer? Very much better. Wow, do Grovers make a difference. Holy moly. This is also my fist foray into inlaid fret dots on the fingerboard, which was fun. I never need them, since I can't see them anyway, the side dots are so much more important to me when I am playing. but the make it look more "guitar-y," don't they?
Here is the video for this one: